May is pelvic pain awareness month, and pelvic pain is a topic I am asked about so frequently that it bears talking about from a variety of angles. So many women and men live day in and day out with pain in their pelvic region, buttocks, genitals, pubic area, tailbone, groin, bladder, genitals, rectum. It can get in the way of day to day activities like sitting, walking, sleeping, sexual activity, exercising, working, or child care. It can change your mood, your focus, your ability to engage with people you want to (or just need to) spend time with and pay attention to.
This is a question that I am asked so often, it deserves a good thorough answer in its own blog post.
Yoga is an amazing way of calming your mind, exercising your body, and just having a great night's sleep. There are many great benefits to be enjoyed from practicing yoga.
Unfortunately, there has also a lot of controversy that has come up around yoga in recent years. Some of the concerns well founded for some people. So I thought I would try and address some of the questions, dispel some of the myths, and let you know how you can get the most out of your yoga practice in the safest way.
It's is a term that you may hear about and may have read a lot about. If you have pain somewhere in “that area” that is hard to describe, you have probably already done some research online to try to figure out what is wrong. You may have even found some possible suggestions as to how to solve this problem.
But how do you know whether what you have is Pelvic Pain?
When we say "pelvic pain", we’re talking about a number of different problems, with one term, so let’s break it down.
Every year around this time I hear from people about their latest new year’s resolution. Lately more and more, though, I am hearing from friends, family, and clients, that they have stopped making new year’s resolutions. They feel that they never stick to their resolutions for longer than a few weeks anyhow, so they say “What’s the point?” For the same reasons, I see people shunning the idea of setting personal goals, because they worry about failing to reach the goal they set. Does this mean that goals and resolutions are bad ways to pursue personal growth? Not necessarily, but recent research shows there may be a better way.
According to the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA), as many as 3 to 8 million women and 1 to 4 million men in the US experience symptoms of the condition known as Interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndrome, or hypersensitive bladder syndrome.
Symptoms can include bladder pain, a sense of urinary urgency, or frequent sensation of needing to urinate even when the bladder is not full. These sensations can occur with bladder filling, with voiding, with sitting, exercise, or sexual activity. They are sometimes reduced or alleviated by urinating, but often only for a short time. Sometimes pain is absent, and urinary urgency/frequency is the only symptom.
By now there is a fairly well-established understanding in at least parts of the medical community, as to how many aspects of health and well-being are influenced in women by pelvic health, and in particular by good function of the pelvic floor muscles. Urinary incontinence, urinary urgency and frequency, bladder pain, sexual pain and other sexual dysfunctions, pelvic organ prolapse, constipation, pudendal nerve pain, as well as hip, sacroiliac, and lumbar joint problems, are all associated with pelvic floor dysfunction.
Physical therapists in all realms of treating the musculoskeletal system use a process of differential diagnosis to determine what is causing the client’s symptoms. This means simply that the problem must be correctly diagnosed, to the exclusion of other possible diagnoses, in order to be treated effectively. This diagnostic process allows the clinician to define the problem that is being treated, and to determine the needs of the client based on his or her individual presentation. Rehabilitation professionals must also consider symptoms and clinical examination findings that point to a need for other health care providers’ involvement. In pelvic rehabilitation, this can become a challenging process. Possible musculoskeletal causes of pelvic pain include abdominal wall or pelvic floor muscle trigger points, hip joint pain, coccyx pain, and irritation of the pudendal nerve. In addition, examples of other medical conditions that can cause pelvic pain are bladder, bowel, or gynecologic malignancies, endometriosis, pelvic congestion, interstitial cystitis, urethral syndrome, constipation, inflammatory or irritable bowel syndrome. (See this article in Canadian Family Physician for more.) It is common to find multiple sources of pain in our population of clients with chronic pelvic pain.
Within a multidisciplinary approach, which is most often the recommended approach to treating chronic pelvic pain, physical therapy will ideally work with other practitioners to develop the best course of care for the patient.
Helping women & men restore dignity and confidence in bladder, bowel, and sexual function without relying on medicines or surgery.